How to overcome hurdles to implement value-based pricing

The Lyfegen Editorial Team

The transition to value-based care is happening at a slower pace than policymakers and healthcare industry leaders had hoped. Stakeholders are struggling to negotiate and then operationalize these complex agreements.


The adoption of value-based drug pricing agreements is not widespread in the U.S., despite the stated strong interest from policymakers and the healthcare industry in tying the price of drugs to their benefit to patient outcomes and value to the health system. Outside of the government Medicare and Medicaid programs, the fee-for-service, volume-based payment model still accounted for almost 56% of commercial health payer contracts as of 2018.

Many value-based pharmaceutical arrangements are not disclosed publicly, making it difficult to know how many are implemented in the U.S. each year. According to the trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), there were 73 publicly disclosed value-based drug contracts at the end of 2019. A study published the same year in the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) suggested that, because of the confidentiality surrounding most agreements, analysts are underestimating the number of value-based pricing arrangements in effect and their impact on the U.S. pharmaceutical market.

In this article, we will highlight some concerns a payer and manufacturer considering a value-based drug pricing arrangement may each face, and give some insight into why these agreements aren't more widely accepted.

Payers modeling risk

A 2019 survey by the National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) and the Duke-Margolis Center for Health policy showed that for payers, top deal-breakers in negotiations for value-based pricing arrangements were disagreements over incentive mechanisms for participation and financial terms. From the payer’s standpoint, a new, high-cost drug–especially one that addresses unmet needs or rare and orphan diseases–is worth the risk if it brings innovative, effective treatment for patients who may have no other options. But payers want to share that risk with the manufacturer when there’s the potential for a substantial impact on the payer’s budget.

Based on publicly available information, oncology, hematology, cardiology, and endocrinology drug treatments are common subjects of value-based pricing arrangements. These treatments have well-defined patient populations, easy-to-see impact measures, endpoints, and cures that make them more appealing to payers. It’s much more difficult to objectively measure the patient health outcomes for treatments covering pain management or mental health.

Payers also prefer treatments that show clinical results in a few months, not years. Tracking a patient’s health to confirm a drug’s value becomes more difficult when a drug takes years to show evidence of long-term benefits. For example, a longer-term benefit of treatment may be the avoidance of hospitalization. In the U.S., patients may leave a payer’s plan at any time, so this future cost may not be captured in the data collection under a current agreement.

Manufacturers sharing risk

When considering coverage of a new drug, payers might question the results of clinical trials, especially if there is limited real-world data because of an expedited FDA approval. So manufacturers must continue to create opportunities to generate real-world evidence that convinces payers of their drug’s value. And they must be ready and willing to share in the risk that a drug may not meet expectations in phase 4 confirmatory trials.

When a new drug has strong competition in the market, manufacturers need real-world evidence to differentiate their product and show their treatment brings better clinical outcomes and value than other options available. Value-based drug pricing agreements are an opportunity to fill that knowledge gap. Pharmaceutical companies not willing to do them to get that real-world evidence may lose out to those who are ready to take on innovative pharmaceutical agreements.

Contract partners building data-gathering and analytics capacity

In the 2019 NPC survey, manufacturers cited data collection challenges and disagreements on outcome measures among their top deal breakers.

Choosing the right contract model to fit the product and the capabilities of the contract partners is the first step. This means researching publicly available value-based drug pricing arrangements to learn the rewards and pitfalls of various contract models. All the contract partners must agree on the key metrics to be measured and how the data will be used to determine a drug’s value to patient health outcomes.

For the data-sharing component of value-based pricing arrangements, contract partners must develop a relationship that includes trust, cooperation, and an unusual level of transparency. Sometimes this relationship is best fostered and protected by the support services of a neutral third party, especially when one or both of the contract partners doesn’t have the technical capacity or administrative staff to operationalize a value-based drug pricing agreement.


The Lyfegen Solution

Value-based drug pricing arrangements are hard, but Lyfegen can make them easier. If your organization is considering a value-based pricing agreement, start by researching real-world examples of drug pricing arrangements in Lyfegen’s Models and Agreements Library. With a collection of more than 20 drug pricing models and over 1000 value-based agreements in use worldwide, the Lyfegen Library can help you discern what pricing arrangement is appropriate for your goals, your current operational capabilities, and your contract partners.

Lyfegen’s value-based contracting software can then operationalize the contract model you choose. We help healthcare insurances, pharma, and medtech companies implement and scale value-based drug pricing contracts with greater efficiency and transparency. The Lyfegen Platform collects real-world data and uses intelligent algorithms to provide valuable insights on drug performance and cost.

By enabling the shift away from volume-based, fee-for-service healthcare to value-based healthcare, Lyfegen increases access to healthcare treatments and their affordability.

To learn more about Lyfegen’s software solutions, contact us to book a demo.


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